Tackling the Civil War in Libya
Violence broke out in Libya in 2011 as a result of anti-government protests in Benghazi and Tripoli that ultimately resulted in over 200 deaths. The Prime Minister at the time, Muammar al-Gaddafi, blamed the protests and general societal unrest on al-Qaeda, despite the rise in protests being largely influenced by other uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia as part of the Arab Spring. Eventually, the opposing National Transitional Council was recognized by multiple nations, including the United States, as Libya’s legitimate government representative. This opposition-led movement arose out of a defection from Gaddafi’s government. His government was one that the Libyan people saw as corrupt, and Gaddafi himself was alleged to have committed crimes against humanity. Since its spring to legitimacy in 2011, the National Transitional Council has found itself situated in a civil war in Libya.

Civil War in Libya

Rebel groups form and commit acts of terrorism amidst international discussions on ways to help Libya transition to democracy. Gaddafi was eventually killed in October of 2011 and the nation’s freedom was announced in Benghazi just days afterward. However, this did not mean peace for the nation, as conflict has continued to engulf citizens as the war in Libya continues.

Some sources claim that the civil war in Libya technically began in 2011 and has continued since then, while others argue that violence renewed itself in 2014 and that the present war in Libya should be considered to have started from this point. Regardless of the timeline dispute, it is clear that the country has struggled with stability following Gaddafi’s death. This instability has made it difficult to rebuild necessary government institutions, a problem that has worsened over the years as more armed groups have spread throughout the country and attempted to lay claim to the territory.

Plans to End the War

With the war continuing all the way into 2020, some international groups have laid out new comprehensive plans to tackle the civil war in Libya. The UN Support Mission in Libya has recently launched a process consisting of three parts meant to bring the warring parties together for negotiations. These talks will hopefully consist of topics such as the current economic situation and security matters.

The first piece of this project was launched very recently on January 6, 2020. Representatives from both parties were able to meet in Tunis to primarily discuss economic and financial issues entangled within the war in Libya. For now, this is progress. The second part of this initiative will involve security issues like a ceasefire, the arms embargo, counter-terrorism efforts and disarmament practices to quell violence. Now that the first part of this UN-led initiative has taken place, it seems that there is renewed hope for tackling the civil war in Libya.

The UN is not the only organization with plans to address the war in Libya, however. An initiative known as Libya Vision 2020 has come alive thanks to the efforts from the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies based in Tripoli. This plan aims to specifically target developmental projects in the nation that look to recover from the war in Libya. It plans to accomplish its goals by implementing peace, security, rule of law, governance and public sector reform and above all, a stable democratic institution. Of course, a comprehensive plan like this first requires the war in Libya to at least take a turn toward negotiations before moving forward with any sort of developmental efforts.

International Support

The international community should keep an eye out for ways to help Libya. The United States, in particular, should consider immediate action, both for the interest of helping potentially end the war in Libya as well as benefiting the nation as a whole. The United States could potentially play an integral role in developing a credible framework for negotiations to take place. The U.S. currently supports the previously created Government of National Accord, which was negotiated through the UN. The continued alliance of the U.S. government, combined with the willingness of U.S. officials to consistently work with international organizations like the U.N. and Libyan forces, could lead to substantial progress toward mitigating the crisis in Libya.

All in all, hope for Libya is not lost. The country needs a comprehensive plan and intervention in order to be pulled from this crisis, but it is in no way impossible. Hopefully, the new decade will bring peace and prosperity to a nation that has been plagued with conflict for nearly ten years.

Hannah Easley
Photo: Flickr

Salwa Bugaighis
Armed gunmen murdered Libyan human rights activist, Salwa Bugaighis, in her home this past Wednesday. Her executors stabbed and shot the 48-year-old mother of three before likely abducting her husband, Essam al-Ghariani, who has since vanished. The couple had arrived home from voting in the Libyan parliamentary elections just before the surprise attack. Both the United Nations and European Union have condemned the violence.A lawyer from a prominent Benghazi family, Salwa advocated against the Muammar Gaddafi regime and most recently took the role of mediator between the many factions of Libya in the nation’s movement toward democracy. Believing her progressive views on the role of women in Libya angered extremists groups, she refused to bow to political pressure even in the wake of death threats. The couple did leave Libya after a previous incident in which a gunman threatened her son, yet despite warnings from friends and family, they returned to continue their fight.Following the revolution, Salwa worked on the National Transitional Council before resigning out of frustration due to alleged sexism. She then promoted minimum quotas for women in the Libyan parliament — a policy later adopted — and spoke against the proposal to obligate Libyan women to wear the hijab.

Although Salwa wished to change the stereotypes of women in her country, she did not find this to conflict with her Islamic faith, saying in a 2012 interview with The Global Observatory, “…we are Muslims, we are proud that we are Muslims but we want moderate Islamist. We want Libya like that.” She later added, “My main concern is the role of the women in the future. We want equal opportunity in all sectors. We want to ensure that our rights in the constitution will be there.”

Rebuilding a country has been no easy task for the new government, which struggles to enforce its borders against terrorists and the trade of illegal goods. Libyan illegal arms have made their way to militants in Mali and the Palestinian territories. The revolution left the infrastructure in ruins, and many Libyans seek health care in neighboring countries.

The day after the murder, chaos persisted as the Supreme Court closed for security concerns, militias patrolled the streets and a bomb outside the assembly writing the new constitution injured two. The violence hampers economic growth largely dependent on the oil sector, and threatens to further destabilize the region.

Western powers that toppled the dictatorship have refocused efforts to other worldly crises, leaving the new government largely to its own devices. After decades of oppression, the Libyan people must now confront the challenges of organizing a state from scratch. But if Salwa left her people with any legacy, it is one of hope: “We have to be patient, we have to give us some time to moving to a democratic country and I’m really optimistic about our people.”

— Erica Lignell

Sources: The Chicago Tribune, The Global Observatory, The Guardian, The New Yorker, Le Monde
Photo: New Yorker